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Why You Should Get Up Earlier and How to Actually Do It

The purpose of this post is twofold.

First, I’m giving you the benefits of why you should get up earlier. Then, I’m giving you step-by-step instructions on how to do it the right way.

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Please understand that I’m not an advocate of extremes. In other words, if you are currently getting up at 07.30am, trying to get up at 04.30am the next morning could be impossible.

Rather, finding your own pace for making the change and getting up at the time you feel comfortable is a sure way to success.

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7 Benefits of an Earlier Riser

Here are some benefits to getting up earlier. Rather than doing everything I suggest on this list, it helps you to see what is possible with earlier wake-ups.

The most important thing is to figure out your why. This gives you the necessary incentive to make the change. It could be anything on this list, or it could be something else, something that only you know.

  • You have more distraction-free time on your hands. This distraction-free time gives you better opportunities to make progress on your projects and tasks. Some people hit the office for this very reason; phones aren’t ringing or co-workers aren’t asking for your attention.
  • You have more time for your goals. You might have some personal goals you want to reach. Since many people feel exhausted after the day at work, why not work on those personal goals before hitting the office? For instance, I have used the mornings for studying for certification exams, training for marathons and triathlons, and writing my first book (I was working full-time, when I did those).
  • You have time for exercising. Exercising before work gives you a boost in energy at work. Besides, when you do the exercise for the day in the morning, you can’t postpone it anymore by saying you don’t have time for it.
  • More time for your loved ones. When you get up earlier, you can also hit the office earlier and even leave for home earlier. Or, if you exercise in the morning, that time is not taken away from your family in the evening.
  • Read that book you always wanted to read. I try to read at least 60-minutes every day. The morning time is perfect for this, as there are no guarantees how the rest of the day will turn out.
  • Plan your days. Why not just spend a couple of minutes jotting down the tasks you want to accomplish during your day? Just figure out 3-5 tasks you want to accomplish and let this plan act as your guide for the rest of the day.
  • Have a relaxed morning. So what if you don’t want to exercise, read a book, or do anything I just suggested? Well, you can always take the extra time for yourself by having a relaxed morning. For many people, the morning time is very hectic, especially if you have kids in your family. So getting up earlier gives you more “me” time and helps you better prepare for the day.

So How Do You Get Up Earlier, Then?

Ok, so now you know the benefits of getting up earlier. But the next question is: How do you actually do it? The answer is: By taking the gradual approach.

When you implement your new routine in a gradual manner, you don’t bite off more than you can chew. This ensures that you make the change as easy as possible for yourself.

In the case of earlier wake-ups, there are two elements involved in the change process:

  1. Getting to bed earlier
  2. Waking up earlier

There is a reason Getting to bed earlier is bold. It’s because your main focus should be on the earlier bedtime. In other words, once you implement the earlier bedtime, you’ll very likely get out of bed earlier, too.

"Once you implement the earlier bedtime, you’ll very likely get out of bed earlier, too."

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This is what many people (including me, in the past) got wrong. Too often, the emphasis is on getting up early by setting your alarm clock to go off at a pre-determined time in the morning. However, when you put your efforts on hitting the bed earlier, the earlier wake-ups become easier for you.

Here is how to implement this advice in practice:

1

DEFINE YOUR "WHY"

Before you decide to get up earlier, understand the reasons why you'd like to do so: Is it because you want a hassle-free morning, before heading the office? Is it because you want to find time for reading? Is it because you want to exercise?

Only you know the answer to the question "why". Once you know the reason for getting up earlier, it's also easier to get up, too.

2

ALARM

Set an alarm to go off 10-15 minutes earlier in the evening to remind you, that it's now the time to shut down your computer or your TV and start your evening routine.

You could use the alarm in your mobile phone or an alarm application on your computer (GrooveOtter, Free Countdown Timer for PC or Alarm Clock for Mac). So, for instance, if you currently stop browsing the web at 11.30pm, set the alarm to go off at 11.15 pm instead.​

3

ADJUST

Once you get comfortable stopping your online surfing 10-15 minutes earlier (say, for a week), make another adjustment to quit 10-15 minutes earlier the next week.

4

RE-INVEST THE "NEW" TIME

When you are able to free-up your time from web surfing (or whatever activities are keeping you up), spend that freed-up time preparing for the next day, like brushing your teeth, putting on your pyjamas.

5

SPEND THE LAST WAKING MINUTES WISELY

Go to bed, read a fiction book or talk with your spouse. Then, turn off the lights.

4 Valuable Tips to Help You in Your Change

Let’s be honest: Changing your routines takes time and effort. That’s why I give you four tips that can help you both in earlier bedtimes, but also when getting up in the morning.

  • Remember the one minute rule. In his book, Early to Rise, the author, Andy Traub, says you can change the direction of your life with a right mindset in the next 30 days with one minute a day. So when the alarm goes off, it takes only one minute to turn off the alarm clock, put your feet on the floor, wake up, and walk out of the bedroom.

    This strategy is simple, but I like to turn it the other way around. So rather than making the alarm go off in the morning, do this one minute routine in the evening, instead.

    This strategy is simple, but I like to turn it the other way around. So rather than making the alarm go off in the morning, do this one minute routine in the evening, instead: When the alarm goes off, make it a habit to shut down your computer or TV in a minute, walk out of the living room or your work room, and start executing the evening routine, which prepares you for the night’s sleep.
  • Understand the exceptions and the right timing. Sometimes, it’s not possible to live, based on your new daily rhythm.

    For instance, your child might keep you up at night and getting to bed earlier (or getting up earlier) might not be possible. Or, perhaps you are travelling, and you come back home late, while passing the regular bedtime.

    In situations like these, it is important to understand that these events are exceptions to the rule. Blaming yourself for not getting to bed early or getting up earlier is not the right way to handle these situations.

    Rather, accept the fact that sometimes life gets in your way, and you have a chance to return back to the normal rhythm the next day.
  • Repeat the new routine enough. So how long is it going to take, until you have implemented a new evening rhythm? Like in any new habit, it takes time and enough repetitions in order to make the desired habit stick.

    It has been said a habit can be formed in approximately a month, but this is not necessarily true. While a new habit can be implemented in much faster than 30 days, sometimes, it takes much more time than that.

    Once again, you should have a concrete reason for getting up earlier, your why. Once this reason is compelling enough, sticking to new habits becomes much becomes easier.
  • Add accountability into the mix. Accountability is also a great way to stick to the new rhythm and strengthen it.

    For instance, if you have a spouse, you could make an agreement that you are both doing this change together. If either one of you slips out of the agreement, you can politely remind each other that the TV is still on, even if you should be on your way to bed.

Conclusion

The point of this post is to make you understand the benefits of getting up earlier. It’s also worth understanding that making this change is possible if you truly commit to it.

If you decide to become an earlier riser, here are the steps you should take:

  1. Define your "why".
  2. Set a reminder (like an alarm) to remind you to shut down electronics, 10-15 minutes earlier than before.
  3. Adjust to your new bed-going time until you feel comfortable with it. Then, adjust your bed-going time earlier if needed.
  4. Re-invest your "new" time by preparing for the next day.
  5. Do something relaxing before turning off the lights: read a non-fiction book, talk with your spouse, etc.​

Getting up earlier is one of the best things that has happened to me regarding my personal productivity. But it isn't enough.

That's why I have created a PDF document that lists 20 tips for improving the quality of your sleep. After all, a lousy night with little or disruptive sleep will most likely ruin your next day, no matter how productive you might otherwise be.

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Timo Kiander
 

  • As someone has already said: “Early in the morning, fear is still sleeping”. Well, I’d add that if you’ve put everything in order inside yourself, fear will be sleeping for the whole day.

    Мeasured speech, calm voice, precise action, patience – these are all things that can reveal how good our live can be – and they are come after good enough sleep and clear mind.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Mitko!

      Good sleep is so essential to our well being … I used to neglect sleep when I was younger, but not anymore!

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Tarja

    I really agree that your first need the ”WHY” to motivate yourself.
    I used to make my daily exercise in the morning (earlier when my dog was in better condition) and it really gives your the extra energy for whole day. Yes I recommend this.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Tarja, nice to see you here :)

      The “why” is something you should figure out first, before deciding your wake-up time.

      Getting up earlier, with a dose of fresh air will definitely start your day effectively.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Jb

    Your 7 benefits all sound great–so how to decided which one to commit to?

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Jb!

      I think it’s really up to you.

      Only you know your situation the best and based on that, you can give you the motivation for earlier wake-ups.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • mohinder prashar

    I agree with all your suggestions. But I find it very difficult to wake up early. The cosyness of the bed is too good to leave. It has not worked with me so far. But with your article listing good suggestions, I am feeling encouraged to start my attempt at early rising once again. Thanks.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Mohinder!

      I think the main point – and something I tried to bring up in this post – is to understand the difference between getting up early vs. getting up earlier.

      For some, getting up earlier could be by waking-up at 07.30AM instead of 08.00AM.

      So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should get up at 5AM.

      Also, I believe that if you get to bed earlier, you will also wake-up earlier, sometimes without the help of an alarm clock.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Susan

    Thank you for this great and very practical article!

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Susan!

      Thank you, great to hear you loved it!

      Cheers,
      Timo

      • Jazz

        I’m going apply this in my daily life, I really need it. Thanks?

        • Timo Kiander

          You are welcome!

          Cheers,
          Timo

  • Great advise which I can highly recommend.
    My alarm was previously set for 6.45 am, but I recently changed it to 6.25 am because my wife had to wake up at 6.30 am and I could just not stand the sound of her alarm, so I set my alarm for 5 minutes earlier.
    The net result is that now I wake up 20 minutes earlier than before. However, since then, my wife’s schedule has changed again and she now only needs to wake up at 7am. I was thinking of going back to my old wake up time, but decided to keep it as is as I was now in a nice routine.
    The net benefit for me has been that over the past two months I’ve been learning German every morning whilst I workout on the cross trainer and I’ve just completed all 18 levels on Duolingo.
    The alternative, would have been a little more sleep and still not able to speak any German. Arber mein Deutsch is nicht zu gut, Ich leren noch und spreche viel besser.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Andre!

      The sound of alarm is something I try to avoid, too :)

      I think you have found your ideal programming for your morning and you strong “why”.

      I try to combine the best of both worlds: by getting enough sleep without having to wake-up to the sound of an alarm, with distraction-free time for myself, before the rest of the family gets up.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • How timely! I woke up this morning after a 45-minute fight with the snooze button and wasted all the time I could’ve spent doing exactly what you wrote. The “sleeping early” bit is what I’m missing, methinks.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Patrick!

      Yeah, it makes a huge difference when you get to bed earlier.

      I think that when you wake to the sound of alarm – or hit the snooze – you haven’t yet slept enough. But with 30-minutes earlier to bed, I have realized that I can get up without an alarm and feel rested (without having to battle with the snooze button :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Emily

    Key to waking up early: going to bed early. Completely true. I have been trying to change my habits and going to bed early. It makes the mornings so much better! What makes me get up early from bed is pretty simple – when I believe I can be productive during the day. That means I have a plan in place (made it at the beginning of the week) and my calendar is set up (looked at my first tasks the night before).

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Emily!

      That sounds good!

      I can’t imagine a better feeling than getting up refreshed, ready to tackle your tasks (and without having to get up tired).

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Thanks Timo for the article. Lot’s of great points. My question is when I succeed in getting up early say for a week, I get so much done and the 8th day it doesn’t seem like I “need” to wake up anymore. I feel lazy and go back to sleep. How can I continue to keep myself motivated long term.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Rohit!

      Hmmm … I think that if you feel sleepy, then it’s a sign from your body that you haven’t slept enough.

      Are you sticking to a regular rhythm every day or are your weekends somewhat different, when it comes to your schedule?

      Also, do you have a strong “why”?

      Cheers,
      Timo

      • I always can sleep an hour longer irrespective of how much sleep I get. My weekends are different as you rightly noted. So the best is to keep it consistent, but hard to do especially because I go to bed late on the weekends. I don’t want to compromise on social life on weekend nights. I do have a strong why which is what keeps me going after small relapses from productive work.

  • Hey Timo,

    You’ve asserted your point covering the topic exhaustively, and that too in a really simple language.

    I love your blog posts! Keep up the good work.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Kunj!

      Thank you for your kind words :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Keahav Reddy

    Hi. I am working in night shifts from 6.30 PM to 3.AM IST. How to getup and go to bed early. Please suggest me.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Keahav!

      Unfortunately this goes beyond my expertise, since I don’t have an experience with the schedule you have.

      Are you having problems with sleep when you work in shifts?

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Suvi

    Hi Timo, this was a very useful article with good advices how to actually do it!
    There are different kind of sleepers in us: some need less hours sleep and some just don’t get out of the bed no matter how much they sleep. :) I have been wondering is this really so or is it just something we are used to? I used to be someone who liked to sleep a lot, but through some cirmustances there was a period when I actually slept about hour less than I was used to and guess what: I felt, after a while, much more energetic! So I think there is a very good point and idea in your writing! And the text is easy to read and your way of writing is very nice.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Suvi!

      Thank you :)

      Yes, people are different and sleeping habits are different. Some folks fall into the category of night owls while some belong to early birds. Still, majority of people fall between those two groups.

      I think that nowadays there is a lot of distraction around, that prevents us to get to bed early (TV and Internet are probably the main ones). Another factor is the lifestyle habits.

      For instance, I used be an owl, getting to bed sometimes around 5am (during the summer vacations) and then getting up after noon. Then, as part of the personal changes back in 2006, I changed my rhythm entirely.

      But sure, for some people, the change is easier than for others. And of course, you should also take things like the time of the year or age into account, too.

      I still think that for a lot of people, even a 30-minute change in their schedules, can make a big difference. It may take a while to get used to, but all that’s needed are small steps :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Timo: I want to get up earlier on a regular basis, so I can continue to write on my first book on tea. It is also time for planning, goal setting, new projects, etc. My challenge is to go to bed earlier. I am a night watchman… ;)

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Martin!

      Yeah, it’s a challenge for many. Yet, it’s definitely worth trying :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Timo, I have to say, I love the new site! It makes more sense, too.

    Congratulations on figuring out what to focus on!

    I have to say that my productivity levels have increased since I started eating healthier. (I was diagnosed last summer with Diabetes.)

    I also have to say that I love your tips and your posts. In fact, I recently had a post about managing time effectively on Kikolani.com.

    Check it out! I think you’ll like it. :)

    It’s called: 15 Tips for Effectively Managing YOUR Precious Time.

    ALL THE BEST IN 2016!

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Lorraine!

      Thank you. And sure, I’ll check out that article!

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Hello Tim,

    Rightly said, getting up early is important but to get up early we have to meet the bed too early. But right now I am following some other principle “Work hard today so you get enough time to relax and sleep tomorrow”.

    I know it’s really very important to have a good sleep and the early morning time is the most energetic and stress free time of all day, hope I develop this as soon as possible.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Karan!

      Whether it’s too early or not depends on your values and priorities – and on your current lifestyle.

      And of course, I talk about getting up earlier which is relative to your current wake-up time. For instance, it could be like 15-minutes earlier, which I think makes the bed going easier :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • Hi Tim
    Sorry for my English. Do You have a tip to keep this habit when working sometimes during nights and sometimes during days? I explain: I’m a doctor and sometimes I have to work all the night in the emergency department after my day work. So I sleep 1-3 hours max, in the good days. Afterwards, my routine is really difficult to keep as I lacked sleeping. So I need 3-4 days to manage again to get up early. But as I work this way around once a week… I have a routine of getting up early only 2 days a week. How can I manage to wake up earlier again faster after a night of working?

    Oli

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Oli!

      To be honest, I don’t have any experiences of following this habit in the same kind of environment as where you are in. In other words, my experience is based on the regular schedule, where I go to bed at the same time of the evening, every day.

      Have you talked any sleep experts or other doctors about your situation?

      Cheers,
      Timo